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Insights into pastoral care experiences following the implementation of the Equality Act 2010: a case study approach



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Ojewunmi, Babatunde  ORCID logo


Insights into pastoral care experiences following the implementation of the equality Act 2010: a case study approach

Babatunde Taiwo Ojewunmi Abstract Introduction: In 2010, the UK Government introduced the Equality Act in England and Wales. The Act includes what the Public Sector Equality Duties mean for educational institutions in England. In further education (FE) colleges, the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) aims to improve pastoral care provision, promote inclusive education, and remove barriers that some students face. It is necessary to reflect on what constitutes ‘success’ a decade after the enactment of the Act. FE colleges are crucial institutions to explicate, assess and understand the Act implementation because they offer pathways to higher education and employment.

Aim: The aim of this study is to explore how FE education colleges provide pastoral support for students with protected characteristics following the implementation of the Act.

The Theoretical Lens: I draw on intersectionality (Ball, Rollock, Vincent, & Gillborn, 2011) critical race (Rollock & Gillborn, 2011), and stakeholder theories (Kumar, 2011) to provide a theoretical framework.

Methodology: I applied mixed methods and triangulated methodological approaches to provide confirmatory evidence concerning how FE colleges provide pastoral care support, promote inclusive education, and remove barriers for students with protected characteristics following the implementation of the Act. The qualitative findings involve data from 12 staff semi structured interviews, 10 focus groups comprising 56 learners from two colleges, and documentary evidence. I used NVivo software to extract relevant quotations and statements associated with the research questions and theoretical lens. I categorised the data based on the theoretical lens and research questions. The quantitative survey involved 74 staff members and 220 student respondents alongside colleges’ achievement data. I employed statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) to analyse survey data and the colleges’ achievement rates. Survey data analysis involved various descriptive statistical analyses.

Findings: Descriptive quantitative analyses did not suggest a statistically significant change in Tai College’s achievement data. However, the Crown College analysis indicated some statistically significant improvements in the 2017 achievement rank of some minority ethnic groups as compared to their 2011 achievement rank. The qualitative findings of the case colleges reveal some improvement after the implementation of the Act, but in pastoral care rather than in academics. While staff feel some change has occurred due to the Act, I argue that the communication of what the colleges are doing to promote equality and eliminate discrimination is weak. Staff members and students at both colleges suggested that communication is inadequate. I also argue that a minority of students in this study – those with multiple protected characteristics – may benefit from additional holistic, compassionate support. The analysis recognised both barriers and positive factors which appear helpful to the implementation of the Act.

Limitations: While surveys obtained the perspectives of critical stakeholders, modest sample sizes limited what I could infer from the intersectional analysis of learners’ surveys.

Conclusion: The quantitative aspect of the study was limited by sample sizes and hence did not succeed as well as it might have with regards to considering some dimensions of intersectionality. However, the qualitative evidence provides insights into how the Act might have enhanced pastoral care, led to better awareness of the Act, and improved welfare and safe learning environments and how these, in turn, may translate into more inclusive education and better academic achievement. The findings did not only relate to race or ethnicity; they all apply to all dimensions of inequality, including race and ethnicity. This approach has led to generic recommendations that do not only focus on race but are also likely to be helpful for all ethnic groups.

Recommendations: I recommend that the colleges improve their communication strategies and expand their Act-inspired induction programmes for both new and existing students. In terms of safeguarding, the colleges could motivate learners to report their concerns without fear of reprisals.

Challenges: Research concerning pastoral care in FE colleges remains limited despite FE colleges being, at 46% of the Key Stage 4 (KS4) leavers, the most common destination for disadvantaged learners (SFR47 2016, p.6). FE college is also the second most common destination for KS4 leavers at 38%. Despite this, FE college has received insufficient research attention.





Vignoles, Anna


Keywords: Intersectionality theory, Critical race theory and Stakeholder theory, policy evaluation, Equality Act 2010, inequalities, inclusive education, diversity, pastoral care, college culture outcomes


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge